When your daughter is pushed out of her friend group, the experience can be very hurtful for her. We may remember this from our own childhood, but when it’s your own daughter, it feels even more heartbreaking.
It could be triggering for you and bring up experiences you thought you had gotten past.
Physical pain and mental pain don’t differentiate when they’re being felt. This pain is real for your daughter. We are a species that wants to be connected, and being excluded is physical pain.
Brave Momma and Brave Girl you are not alone!
Here are tips to help!
The most important thing is not to let your daughter see how upsetting this is for you. This means staying calm if you’re triggered and not threatening to call the parents of the other girls involved. This kind of reaction will probably shut your daughter down and make her feel like she can’t tell you what’s going on. Make your home a haven for her to come back to and feel like everything will be okay.
Do a lot more listening than talking. Let her get out everything before you offer one bit of advice. Make sure she knows that she doesn’t have to watch her language or create an organized timeline or story while she’s talking to you. In a state of heightened emotion, your daughter may not speak the way she normally does. She might be angry or sad, and she needs to know that this is okay.
This is a time to encourage your daughter to practice self-care. Does she need to write about it in a journal? Maybe your daughter enjoys expressing herself through art or cooking a special meal together. Does she want to be left alone? Let her have that. Does she want to cry or rage about it? Let her. Allow her time to grieve in the way that’s right for her.
Reassure her that she’s a person worthy of love. Please talk about the wonderful traits and qualities that she brings to others' lives and her friendships. What helps her connect? It may be someplace outside of school or an activity that you’re involved in that she would like. This could be a church, community organization, somewhere for her to do volunteer work, anywhere with kids her age.
These could be friends of yours, people at the place where she connects with others, community and church leaders, or teachers at her school. The idea is to get her comfortable with reaching out to others again. Reconnecting with kids her age is important, but adult role models reinforce those ideals and give her more comfort to build trust with new friends.
These are people that your daughter may have met in the past who are in her age group, but she didn’t have a one-on-one connection with them before now. This can be very helpful, especially if these people are on the group's periphery that pushed her out.
It’s important that your daughter not only makes connections with new people but also that she’s not clinging to the group that just excluded her. Try to keep her off any devices linked up to those profiles and discourage following the people from her old group. It can be triggering for her, a reminder of the pain she’s experienced, and could bring to light parts of the relationships that were one-sided. Responding or reacting will keep the cycle going on social media. She should unfollow or block them to keep that trauma from coming back to hurt her.
This will look different for everyone, so consider what works best for your daughter. This could mean exercising together and going on walks, having her come up with healthy meals to cook as a family, anything that brings out her strengths. Show her that she maintains control in some aspects of her life.
You may notice that her friend group's loss has affected your daughter’s performance on her schoolwork or that it’s difficult for her to log on to class because some of the friends that pushed her out are in that class. Talk to her about reaching out to the teacher or school counselor for their support.
If you’re concerned about bullying or notice that people are targeting your daughter, screenshot what’s been shared so that you have something to show when you bring it to the school’s attention. This can also be important if you feel things escalate and you need to involve the police.
Keep things positive. Let your daughter talk and listen to her, but don’t talk negatively about the friends that pushed her. Make this about your daughter. Validate the hurt that she’s experienced. Then look for ways to build her back up.
One friend I’ve been working with had a great way of looking at this situation. When someone was unkind to her, she decided to react with gratitude.
She said to herself, “thank you for showing me who you are. I don’t have to waste my time on people who are unkind anymore!”
She reframed what happened to stand in her power and to move past it positively. Now she will take that positive energy and look for healthy and kind people when she seeks new friendships.
If this has happened to you, know that there are ways to make new friends and that you are worthy of love and respect.
Try this: put down your phone and get off social media. Go try a new activity in person. Go there three times before you decide it’s not for you. Check-in with others you met the last time you were there. Try to connect with new people.
Friendships aren’t formed instantaneously. They happen when you spend time with new people in person. So try it three times and see what happens.
One of the tools that I like to use when trying to encourage myself is saying affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that we say to ourselves to build us up. Here are my favorite affirmations that I use and love to share with my friends. You can download them and print them out. This would be the perfect way to start each new day while healing your heart.